Day Three: Travel from Kastraki – Delphi
Getting from Kastraki to Delphi took most of a day. I caught the 9:45 bus to Kalambaka, the 10:00 bus to Lamia, the 12:45 bus to Amfissa, and the 2:30 bus to Delphi, arriving around 3:30 in Delphi.
(Solo Traveling Premise #5: Be patient or perish.)
Much of the journey was on winding mountain roads, and at one point I was fairly certain I was going to be sick. Aside from that, the journey had been completely uneventful until I boarded the bus to Delphi itself.
I was riding in the very front, and the bus had been grumbling along for about two minutes before I saw a figure on the right side of the road, frantically waving the bus down. The bus stopped, and a sprightly-looking old man with a mad-scientist-worthy shock of white hair sticking up in all directions boarded the bus. He sat down next to me, and spent the entire bus ride reassuring me that the bus was indeed going to Delphi. I think he was also trying to explain the geological features of the surrounding area to me, but it’s hard to say. He kept repeating himself, so at one point, I said, “Katalaveno” (“I understand”). At this, he said, “‘Katalaveno?’ Katalaveno!!” and reached over and gave my hand a congratulatory pat as if he was very proud of me. (Like I said, in these touristy places, speaking even a word or two of Greek is huge!) At this, he again pointed forward and said, “Delphi, Delphi” the way one would say, “Don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it.” When we arrived in Delphi, he invited me to have a coffee with him, but as I was by myself and he had been repeating himself a bit much to trust completely I very politely declined and said I had things to do.
(Solo Traveling Premise #6: Be careful.)
When I got into town, I went straight to my hotel, which was again very cute. I had an awesome view of the gulf from my room!
I was absolutely ravenous by the time I got to Delphi and checked in, so I made straight for the local gyro joint that’s supposed to be really good. When I got there, there was a young guy standing outside. And I could almost count down in my head to when he would ask me where I was from. “3… 2… 1…” “Hello! Where are you from?” Yup. I told him, and this was the beginning of a very interesting forty five minutes or so of interaction. We were in a public place in broad daylight, so I decided to take advantage of this opportunity to talk to a Greek guy who’s my own age, which I don’t often get to do.
(Solo Traveling Premise #7: Don’t be too careful.)
I’ll never know for sure what percentage of what he told me was complete and total fabrication. Apparently he is a quite serious student of architecture at a school near Delphi. And he can’t wait to finish school so he can go live at his parents’ place in Florida (“When I am done here? Bah! I am out of here, man! I go to Florida! To Florida!“). When I asked where in Florida, he said Miami (of course). His English was decent (I tried to practice my Greek with him, but he was clearly too excited to practice his English to want to speak any Greek at all) and he sat with me while I scarfed my gyro. And then he bought me a shot of ouzo.
(Life To-Do #457: Have a Greek boy buy you a shot of ouzo. Check.)
I knew all too well that he would not want that to be the end of our little interaction, though, so as we were talking I was also trying to think of how to get out of the situation without being rude; he was perfectly nice and had given me no reason to suspect he would act otherwise, but as a girl traveling alone, there are certain precautions one must take without exception. He asked if I wanted to get a drink with him after that, and I told him I had people to meet (I wonder if he was wondering what percentage of what I was telling him was complete and total fabrication!) but I would walk with him on my way back to my hotel. (Again, remember it was 4 in the afternoon, there were people everywhere, and my hotel was right on the main drag.) The whole walk, he kept trying, the poor guy, and I kept being ambiguous.
“I will go to another town tomorrow! Do you want to come?”
“Hmm. I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow yet.”
“Maybe you can come visit me? I am not busy!”
“We’ll see. Maybe I’ll run into you around town!”
When we reached my hotel, I thanked him for the ouzo and the walk, and shook his hand with a “Nice to meet you!” He said the same and we parted ways with no difficulties. Despite the stress of trying to navigate the end of the interaction politely, it was overall a quite pleasant experience; he was a nice guy and I think I did a good job of taking advantage of the situation without being careless.
That night I got to play International Traveling MacGyver! I did some handwashing, and washed out the armpits of the fleece I wore while hiking around Meteora and then dried them with the hotel hair dryer. Bam!
(Solo Traveling Premise #8: Don’t expect the nightlife to be glamorous.)
Day Four: Ancient Delphi
On day four, I saw Ancient Delphi! …In the pouring rain. It was really coming down while I walked the 500m or so to the site, and I was absolutely soaked by the time I got to the museum. While I’m not usually an archaeological museum kind of girl, it was a good chance to dry off for a bit, so I decided to go for it. And I’m so glad I did! I highly recommend the museum to anyone traveling to Delphi. It really enhanced my experience at the site itself. The one thing I liked the most was a bronze sculpture called “The Charioteer,” which was incredibly well-preserved because the earthquake that destroyed much of the rest of the site actually managed to bury it quite safely! It even still has eyelashes.
Luckily, the rain let up for a bit while I walked around the site. Even though Meteora was my favorite, I really enjoyed seeing Ancient Delphi. It’s on this incredible hillside in the mountains, and has lots to see! I particularly enjoyed the ancient theatre, of course, but the stadium was also really neat.
I sat on the curb above the theatre for a long time, thinking about how they managed to build such a thing so long ago. And who actually built it–I found myself thinking about the laborers, and wondering whether or not they believed in the gods they were building for. Were they Greek? And did all ancient Greeks believe in the same gods? Had the idea of questioning such things even really taken root? This merits further research on my part.
Day five: Arahova
On the fifth day, my hiking plans were drowned out by the torrential rain coming down, so I decided to head to the nearby ski town of Arahova for the day. I was feeling kind of bummed about the hike, but decided it was the next best thing.
I met a great Australian guy named Tom at the bus stop, and it turned out he was running the marathon in Athens, so we swapped numbers so we could meet up at the race. It was nice to talk to a fellow traveler, especially one so interesting: he’s a reporter, and, being Australian, his thoughts on platypi were absolutely hilarious.
When I got off the bus in Arahova, I quite literally ran into a marching band. There were people lining the street, and I could hear music, so I turned around. Yup. Almost caught a tuba to the face, but I managed to get out of the way in the nick of time. I then remembered it was OXI day! I’m so happy I was in Arahova for this day: it’s not as touristy as Delphi, and certainly something like Oxi day isn’t put on for the tourists, so I really felt like I was witnessing something authentically Greek.
And I had the most wonderful little day in Arahova! I bought most of my Christmas presents, I wandered around, I had a coffee, and I tried some local food (WHICH WAS AMAZING.)
And then… I headed to Athens for more adventures. Stay tuned for the next installment! Meanwhile, I’m already planning my next trip… can’t help it!
Ciao for niao,